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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 12, December 2022

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Working paper Figure w30568
Many Americans plan to continue social distancing even after the COVID pandemic ends, according to data from the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes, and people with such plans are less likely to participate in the labor force. The effect is to reduce the size of the national workforce and potential GDP, Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis find in Long Social Distancing (NBER Working Paper 30568). To reach their conclusions, the...

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Working paper 30475 figure
Article
The real interest rate has dropped sharply in the twenty-first century. To what extent is this likely to be temporary, rather than persistent? In Long-Run Trends in Long-Maturity Real Rates 1311–2021 (NBER Working Paper 30475), Kenneth Rogoff, Barbara Rossi, and Paul Schmelzing examine a rich dataset on long-maturity sovereign debt over the past seven centuries and find that long-term global real interest rates have exhibited a persistent downward trend of about 1.6...
Working Paper Figure w30589
Article
The US has long limited admission of contract foreign laborers for low-skill work in order to avoid adversely affecting US workers. Some employers have claimed that the labor supplied by their foreign workers is critical for the success of their businesses. In The Effect of Low-Skill Immigration Restrictions on US Firms and Workers: Evidence from a Randomized Lottery (NBER Working Paper 30589), Michael A. Clemens and Ethan G. Lewis find that firms authorized to employ...
Article
The United States is home to world-class universities that attract hundreds of thousands of international students each year. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of international students who received either a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a US college or university ranged between 500,000 and 1 million per year. Many of these students acquired substantial human capital in the course of their studies. Whether these graduates deploy their skills in the US labor market...
Article
Scientists and engineers tend to work more productively in high-tech-intensive cities. With more opportunities to network with their peers, they appear to benefit from knowledge spillovers, and their firms benefit from a larger labor pool. Productivity gains — defined as the number of patents produced in a year — increase steadily when firms in cities with smaller concentrations of research and development activity are compared to those in localities with larger...
Article
The US dollar appreciated by 23 percent against a broad basket of other currencies between January 2011 and December 2019, and has continued its appreciation since then. In Understanding the Strength of the Dollar (NBER Working Paper 30558), Zhengyang Jiang, Robert J. Richmond, and Tony Zhang analyze factors that contributed to the dollar’s rise. They estimate that global growth in investor savings accounted for appreciation of 8.7 percent, relatively tight US central...
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